Michael Jessen, a prominent West Kootenay environmentalist for the last 50 years, has died at 75.
Jessen was by turns the proprietor of a newspaper reporter, a Nelson city councillor, and the proprietor of a vegetarian restaurant. He was also a columnist on environmental issues, a volunteer with the BC Lung Association, and an executive with the provincial Green Party.
Jessen pioneered recycling locally and served as the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s recycling co-ordinator for a 10-year span in the 1980s and ’90s.
“He was called Michael Recycle. That was his nickname,” says his friend Lisa Bramson, who first met him in the early ’80s when he was running the Preservation House restaurant in Nelson (where the Yellow Deli is now).
“He was very dedicated to a simpler, cleaner life and he tried to set that example. He walked his talk. When he was working at the Nelson Daily News he lived at Longbeach and he would always take the bus.
“He really cared about the environment. He did his homework and through committees and letters to the editor, he tried to educate the public.”
Gusti Callis, who organized the Kaslo Jazz Festival, recalled Jessen was also a jazz aficionado: “I would ride the bus occasionally. Michael and I used to talk jazz as we rode together. His knowledge of it was quite impressive.”
Jessen died on Oct. 22, three days after suffering a stroke.
In a letter to the editor published just a few weeks before his death, he wrote: “I believe that we humans are beings created for ethical action, beings meant to step into the stream of human life and create causes, create effects, to be, to know, to love, and to do right in the human world.”